2017-12-07 / Editorial

Avoiding the pitfalls – and falls – of winter

Markey Township Firefighter
By Ken Elmore

Well, here we go folks! Looks like the freezing weather is about here to stay, so as we slide out of the season of fall, we slip into the season of falling.

That is to say – winter with all of its snow and ice conditions can send us flying on our butts, or worse. In keeping with our goal of providing safety tips to all, we reached out to our friends at Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital and got some great advice to pass on.

One of our good friends there, Heidi O’Malley, RN, the North Central Medical Control Coordinator, deals with trauma issues all the time. She informed us that last year, close to six of every 10 accidents requiring admission to the hospital involved falls. That’s enough to have you sit up and take notice. Of course we all know you can take a fall any time of the year, so let’s stick with a few suggestions geared toward winter conditions.

Let’s start with what you have on your feet. Footwear should have decent tread designed to grip. Even a thin coat of frost on some of our decks can make them treacherous, so having a good grip between you and whatever you’re walking on is paramount. Think about where you’re headed and prepare for it. That quick dash to the mailbox in a pair of slippers worn slick is not advisable. Besides who’s in a hurry to get junk mail and bills?

Remember that having that proper tread on your footwear can result in extra snow stuck on them, so make sure every time you go into a building you knock as much off as you can. Heidi and the folks at the hospital tell us to leave the fashion footwear at home!

Use what you have at your disposal. Items like railings, car doors and such can help you keep your balance by providing firm support. Use them and keep your hands out of your pockets. Taking extra time doing most anything in ice and snow will keep you a little more balanced and steady on your feet.

While it doesn’t fit into the “fall” category, we can’t emphasize enough the dangers of going too fast on slippery roads. In addition to taking a few extra minutes, be aware of your environment. Observe where you are walking and pay attention to such things as snow-covered patches of ice, uneven ground surfaces, curbs and the like. You may have to alter your route a bit. Here’s where that extra few minutes of time you took can really pay off.

Of course, in order to be more aware of where you are headed, make sure you are not loaded down with “stuff” that will disrupt your field of vision or make you off balance due to weight.

It may also be necessary to alter the way you step. Keep your feet flat on the ground and point your toes out a bit. Maybe take shorter steps.

Finally, we’ll say this: sometimes just being aware of your surroundings so you can alter your habits can be a great help, and many safety issues boil down to safe habits. This is really just the tip of the “iceberg” when it comes to winter safety, so with that lousy joke, we’ll say thank you to our friends at Munson hospital, and bid the rest of you safe travels, be it near or far.

To ask a question in this forum, send an email to stelmoresfire@charter.net.

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